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Several Live Music Venues In Oklahoma Will Require Vaccination Or Negative COVID Test

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Several live music venues in Oklahoma are requiring proof of vaccination or negative COVID tests in order to attend concerts.

Beginning September 8th, all guests at Tower Theatre and Ponyboy in Oklahoma City will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event.

"It is our hope that our state and city officials, as well as other organizations responsible for large gatherings of people, will join us in encouraging safe practices for our community with the goal of a post-COVID reality," said Chad Whitehead, Operating Partner of Tower Theatre, in a statement. "We are increasing our safety measures at this time in an effort to keep live music events as safe and sustainable as possible."

In addition, Tower Theatre will require all children under the age of 12 to wear a mask at all times. Masking for those over the age of 12 is encouraged, but not required. The venue will grant exemptions to those with qualifying health conditions on a case-by-case basis. Those unable to meet the requirements are eligible for a full refund.

In Tulsa, venues like Mercury Lounge, The Whittier Bar and Barkingham Palace are implementing similar policies beginning this week.

Mercury Lounge co-owner Bobby Dean Orcutt said his business doesn't have a choice.

"We deal in touring shows and right now live events are the first thing to go," Orcutt said. "It's happening again right now. We're seeing more and more shows cancel and money removed from the local economy."

Orcutt believes these requirements are quickly becoming the industry standard for live music. Mercury Lounge will offer some rapid tests at the door for concert attendees unaware of the new rules. The venue will also only require vaccination proof and negative tests for concerts. Any other time the bar is open, those requirements will be lifted.

Nationally, the two biggest live music companies — Live Nation and AEG Live — and festivals like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo are all requiring vaccination proof or negative tests to attend their events.

Touring musicians like Jason Isbell, Foo Fighters, Japanese Breakfast and Bleachers have announced similar safety requirements to attend their concerts.

New Orleans Jazz Fest recently cancelled their 2021 event and touring musicians like Stevie Nicks, Michael Bublé, Limp Bizkit, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Counting Crows have either cancelled shows or entire tours due to a rise in COVID cases.

And this week, Garth Brooks cancelled stadium tour dates in five cities due to rising COVID cases. In a statement, Brooks said, "I realize we are still in the fight and I must do my part."

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Ryan LaCroix joined KOSU’s staff in 2013. He hosts All Things Considered, Oklahoma Rock Show, Oklahoma Rock Show: Rewind, and Oklahoma Music Minute.
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